Volume 58 Number 96 
      Produced: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 06:21:17 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality (2)
    [Russell J Hendel  Russell J Hendel]
A "baal teshuva" or a "Christian Scientist?" 
    [Charles (Chi) Halevi]
Agunot as "victims" 
    [Akiva Miller]
Changing one's seat during availus 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Denial is not a river in Egypt. 
    [Mordechai Horowitz]
Is Minyan Biblical or Rabbinic 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Kaporot with chickens and darekei emori 
    [Jack Stroh]
Was Resh Lakish a Homosexual 
    [Russell J Hendel]
When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat? 
    [Guido Elbogen]
Women Saying Kaddish 
    [Russell J Hendel]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Mordechai Horowitz (v58n73) (and Akiva Miller and Martin Stern (v58n75))
responded to my (mild) criticism of principle #8 in the "statement of
principles". I had faulted the statement for not obligating synagogues to bar
homosexuals from aliyoth and being New Year cantors.

Akiva pointed out that perhaps principle #8 was speaking about homosexual
ORIENTATION not homosexual PRACTICE. Mordechai states >>>The principles fully
agree with you here. In part of #8 that you did not quote: > ...We do not here
address what synagogues should do about accepting members who are openly
practicing homosexuals and/or living with a same-sex partner. Each synagogue
together with its rabbi must establish its own standard with regard to
membership for open violators of halakha. Those standards should be applied
fairly and objectively.....>>>

That in fact was my point. I was criticizing the principles FOR LEAVING THESE
DECISIONS UP TO EACH SYNAGOGUE. My position is that the statement of principles
SHOULD have stated 

>>While each synagogue determines its own policies, nevertheless, we affirm that
it is a positive value of Jewish law to uphold atmosphere and standards in the
synagogue through the use of honors. It is fully consistent with Jewish law to
prohibit in-practice sinners, who are still accepted as synagogue members, from
receiving the same honors as other members. This lessening of honors should
happen until repentance takes place.>>

Again: I called this a "mild criticism." But since it is on the table I am
wondering how people react to how I think the principles should have been written.

Russell Jay Hendel; ph.d. asa http://www.Rashiyomi.com

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

In v58n72 I expressed shock at the 12th principle: That homosexuals should not
be encouraged to marry. 

Avraham Walfish (v58n73) answers me: 

First he says

>>Had this paragraph of the statement of principles been presented accurately,
Russell would have a valid point. But what the paragraph actually says is:<<

Fair enough. I stated I was "quickly summarizing" to get some discussion. So I
expected some misquotes and I am quite happy with the dialogue as it clarifies
many things. Now let me get to Avarham's contention: 

>> Jews who have an EXCLUSIVELY homosexual orientation should, under most
cirrcumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other gender, as this
can lead to great tragedy, unrequited love, shame, dishonesty
and ruined lives...>>

Avraham explains:

>>Unfortunately, the impulse of many well-meaning but uninformed spiritual
counselors (and I have heard many rabbis voice this sentiment) is to assume that
a heterosexual marriage will "cure" the homosexual of his temporary madness, and
this not infrequently has the results of "unrequited love, shame, dishonesty,
and ruined lives". ... There is NO mitzvah to "marry and reproduce" under such

BEFORE I answer Avraham let me make it clear that I agree with the last
paragraph (and was shocked that some counselors think that way). Here is what I
think the prinicples SHOULD have said: Again: I look forward to comments on my

>>A pillar of Jewish thought is repentance. We require all homosexuals (whether
in orientation or practice, whether exclusive or not) to BELIEVE that our
religion holds that they CAN BE CURED in this world, that they can eventually
MARRY and lead normal heterosexual lives. It is absolutely prohibited according
to the Jewish viewpoint to state that anyone is doomed psychologically and
cannot escape from their present state of action or orientation. We therefore
encourage homosexuals to read and seek ideas that will alleviate them from this
sin. HOWEVER,not withstanding the above: We do NOT REQUIRE homosexuals to see
therapists or to subscribe to any existing therapy. We OPPOSE the view that the
ACT of marriage in and of itself will cure them>>

In other words I am objecting to the OMISSION of a strong statement that Judaism
believes that every homosexual (orientation, practice, exclusive) CAN REPENT and
lead a normal life if they so chose (albeit with much work). However I agree
with Avraham that this belief of Judaism should not be used to ruin anyone's life.


Russell Jay Hendel; ph.d. asa http://www.Rashiyomi.com


From: Charles (Chi) Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: A "baal teshuva" or a "Christian Scientist?"

>>I know a young baal teshuva who became a Breslover. He refuses to see a doctor
nor would he allow his children to see one on instructions from his rebbe.<<
Being a baal teshuva means not being a "Christian Scientist".
>>I asked higher ups in Breslov who told me it was nonsense. <<
Nice to know there are sane folks out there.

Charles (Chi) Halevi


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

Avie Walfish wrote (MJ 58:81):
> My complaint is about cases - some of which I have personally
> witnessed - in which the court has authority to compel a divorce,
> and sometimes has even issued such a ruling, but shies away from
> enforcing it, due to exaggerated fears of *get me'useh* (a divorce
> compelled illegitimately, hence void).

I responded (MJ 58 #83):
> Evaluating whether these fears are exaggerated or reasonable is
> not a matter of fact, but of opinion. It seems to me that there
> have been cases where Avie considered the fears to be exaggerated,
> but the court felt them to be reasonable. I have no problem with
> this -- good people can disagree, even about important things.

In MJ 58:95, Shoshana L. Boublil responded with many stories and examples, and I
thank her for that post. More importantly, on behalf of the entire Jewish
people, I want to thank her and her husband for the work they are doing in this

Looking back on what I wrote, I can see how some people might think that I was
justifying the courts which Avie was referring to. I would like to point out
that I was not trying to defend them in any way.

If Avie had posted only this:

> My complaint is about cases - some of which I have personally
> witnessed - in which the court has authority to compel a divorce,
> and sometimes has even issued such a ruling, but shies away from
> enforcing it.

then I would have been silent, because I have heard of such things, and I
support Avie in complaining about it. If a court has issued a ruling and fails
to enforce it, it makes a mockery of itself. And in the cases which Shoshana
brought, there seems ample precedent for such a ruling. I'm not arguing with
either of them on these points. It is only because Avie continued, and wrote
about "exaggerated fears of *get me'useh*" that I felt compelled to write what I

Akiva Miller


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Changing one's seat during availus

To Carl Singer's query on Changing one's seat during availus
Volume 58 Number 90 
I think I checked everyone 91-95 (it's tough getting on the 'other'
computer and trying to catch up) but no one mentioned that the seat
change should be backwards, not forwards in the synagogue seating plan.


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 19,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Denial is not a river in Egypt.

Jeanette says without any proof in mail-jewish Vol.58 #86 Digest:

> Example: True story:  when a 10 year old boy commits suicide after his
> chassidic classmates raped him because his mother was a convert and his
> father was a returnee (a giyoret and a BT), then I believe there is a
> deep, deep sickness in the community, esp. when the kids who did it
> weren't properly treated or punished. Just think about this:  the three
> perps who did this about 10 years ago had this stuff buried by the
> shadchanim and are now "happily" married.

What is your proof this occurred?

There are problems in the Torah world but Jeanette's stories keep getting 
worse and worse as we are supposed to believe she is the recipient of the
deepest tragedies within the Torah world .


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Is Minyan Biblical or Rabbinic

I recently asserted that women should not want to join a minyan (quorum of 10)
since minyan is disparaging. My opinion is that minyan reflects the 10 spies who
brought the destruction of the entire Jewish nation. So the Rabbis invented
"things of holiness" and "a requirement of a minyan" so that whenever 10 men get
together they should remember not to slander.

Both Akiva Miller (v58n78) and Tal Benschar (v58n74) demurred. To be fair to
them Rabbi Saul Weinreb also made their objection when I first told him my
theories (about 10 years ago).

But I disagree with all 3 of you. The Talmud relates that >>they went up to an
attic and decided that for 3 things one must give ones life.>> As far as I can
tell the requirement of martyrdom (when asked to transgress in the presence of
10) is also RABBINIC not BIBLICAL. It was decided in an attic not given at Sinai!!!!

Let me recap: There is NO BIBLICAL LAW to say BORECHU, KADDISH or KEDUSHA: They
are manmade Rabbinic concepts (Which of course we must follow).

Furthermore even the Rambam (whose views on martyrdom are extreme --- according
to Rambam if a grenade was about to explode a soldier would be prohibited to
throw himself on the grendae to save the other soldiers) >>admits<< that the
whole matter is theoretical >>Nevertheless if a person who was obligated to
commit martyrdom went and violated the commandments under threat - even if they
committed murder, adultery or idolatry - they are considered helpless (Anoos)>>
So bottom line: There is no sin if you violate martyrdom (because you are
helpless) I therefore consider the laws Rabbinic advice.

I again explain: There is NO BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF CONGREGATION. Rather the Rabbis
used public gatherings as an excuse to warn people against slander by reminding
us of the tragedy that 10 people brought on the whole Jewish people.

So: Women do not slander God for reasons of political conservativeness and hence
they have no need for a minyan.

Russell Jay Hendel; ph.d. asa http://www.Rashiyomi.com


From: Jack Stroh <jackstroh@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Kaporot with chickens and darekei emori

We just had a talk in shul about how the Ramban was against using 
chickens as "Darkei Emori." Does anybody have any details on this? 
Unfortunaterly, I don't have the source either. Thanks.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Was Resh Lakish a Homosexual

I made a statement that Resh Lakish was a homosexual. The reaction was
interesting: Some people said: Lets not discuss what happened; others asked me
to justify my remarks; still others asked me to correct the aggregious error I made.

Well first things first. I have not insulted anyone. If I meet a homosexual I
not only tell them they can repent. I also tell them that they can go to the
head of the class - they can the leader of the generation as Resh Lakish was.
There is no stronger statement of man's capacity for repentance.

Let me briefly tell you what is bothering me. #1) The Talmud had this story of
Rabbi Yochanan bathing in a river; Resh Lakish jumped in; they then relate some
physical discussions about good looks; Rabbi Yochanan offers his sister to Resh
Lakish. #2) There are verious words to describe Resh Lakish - they could mean
gladiator but they could also mean thief. #3) Rabbi JOchanan and Resh Lakish had
a discussion once and Rabbi Yochanan got very insulted and insulted Resh Lakish
back that "thieves/gladiators are experts in their utensils". REsh lakish got
very sick and died. His wife (Rabbi Jochanan's sister) asked Rabbi Jochanan to
forgive him for her own sake so she doesn't become a widow and Rabbi Yochanan
cruelly refuses.

That is really all we known (There might be one or two more passages relating to
whether Resh Lakish was originally Jewish...he definitely had a poor life).

I think a very reasonable hypothesis is that Resh Lakish belonged to the Roman
underworld. Criminals by and large dont make money by killing people (because
there are protests). Rather they have scare tactics and get paid protection
money. I assume that jumping into rivers where people bathed (there were no home
baths in those days) threatening them sexually UNTIL the frightened victim
offered money was one such method. 

You never can prove such things: But the following may be of support: a)
Homsexuality was common in the Roman underworld b) The physical discussions in
the river about "looks" sound very peculiar between two naked men, c) if Resh
Lakish did not threaten him sexually why would Rabbi Jochanan be SO insulted
many years later as to want him dead.

Bottom line: My understanding begins to make sense of certain problems. This is
not a doctrinal belief of mine. But I do think that is what happened. I do not
think it insulting to Resh Lakish and I certainly think he was a great person. 

If someone wants to explain the three things enumrated above and others think
the explanation IS reasonable that is fine with me.

Russell Jay Hendel; ph.d. asa http://www.Rashiyomi.com


From: Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat?

> Akiva is correct that some digests are not produced in the USA.
> The one he refers to was in fact produced in the UK. I have had other people
> query other such apparent breaches of Shabbat and rejected them on these
> grounds and the assumption that one should always be melamed zechut [give
> people the benefit of the best possible interpretation of their actions].

If a person is in a non Shabbat time zone and directly causes a machine to
operate productively and thus benefit financially in a Shabbat time zone, is
there not a problem?

Lets say it's Shabbat in a field you own, could you "personally" sow seeds
in that field and then water those seeds all from a location that is not as
yet Shabbat by perhaps pressing a button on a computer?

There was a case sometime ago when a father in the USA on Fridays was
sending Divrei Torah faxes to his son in Israel when it was already Shabbat.
It was ruled that those faxes were in the category of "Nolad" (newly
created) and should not be removed from the machine until after Shabbat.

Perhaps this is not exactly the same but I would appreciate a response.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Women Saying Kaddish

To bring readers up to date I asserted that according to all opinions women can
say kaddish since even the Ramban holds that one is Biblically obligated to pray
when in duress. I further supported my arguments by citing the Rav that the
institution of Kaddish (as it applies to mourners) originated during the
crusades. Finally I pointed out that although Kaddish was originally instituted
as applying to such things as Kedusha and Borechu (routine daily prayers) when
applied to mourners the Kaddish takes on new meanings - for example, the
statement that >God's will reign< in the context of a mourner would refer to the
absence of Crusade pogroms and the elimination of death.

Bottom line: I hold that a woman saying Kaddish is fulfilling her Biblical
obligation to pray (according to both Rambam and Ramban) since the Kaddish when
said by a mourner counters her grief by positively looking forward to the reign
of God.

Rabbi Teitz continued his disagreement with me (v58n66). One point I found
amusing: He states >>What is of later origin is _not_ the Kaddish itself; it is
the saying of it by mourners which is a more modern development.>> I agree (I
had said the Kaddish was INSTITUTED during the Crusades). Rabbi Teitz merely
clarified (correctly) my remarks and that is fine (In passing: He could have
EXPRESSED his disagreement as a clarification of an almost correct statement vs.
a correction).

Rabbi Teitz then states that >>The connection with the Crusades, if there is one
(and it is far from certain; Teimanim, too, say the Kaddish, and to the best of
my knowledge there were no crusades in Yemen), is that there was a multitude of
pre-bar mitzva orphans, who -- even if capable -- are ineligible to lead
services.  They were therefore given a kaddish to say.  Indeed, I believe that
in its first mention in siddurim, the instructions read "Here the lad says

I made it abundantly clear that these ideas were not my own but that of the Rav,
Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchick. The Rav actually (during his lecture on this)
mentioned that he personally studied old prayer books. Interestingly, since it
is soon the Jewish New Year, the Rav made it clear that the painting of the
Jewish new Year as a sombre day also began during the Crusades. BEFORE Rabbi
Teitz demurs, the Rav made it clear that God's kingship and judging the world DO
EXIST in the Talmud. But the Rav explained that the Jewish new year was a
holiday no different than Passover, Shavuoth and Succoth. It was during the
crusades that the emphasis changed.It was during the crusades that mourner's
kaddish was instituted and this was done to strengthen people to prvent them to
leave the community. This was all said by the Rav.

The next point shows the real point of disagreement between me and Rabbi Teitz.
I translated the Kaddish AS IT MEANS TO A MOURNER SAYING IT  > May God's name be
magnified whether in this world (of Death) or in the future world when He will
be King (and death will be devoured) WHETHER in my lifetime **or** the life of
the Jewish people, hopefully soon....>

Rabbi Teitz disagrees and states: >>"May His Great Name be magnified and
sanctified in the world He created according to His will, and He impose His
monarchy, in your lifetimes and your days [referring to the members of the
congregation present--EMT], AND in the lifetimes of all the House of Israel,
speedily and soon."    There is neither mentiom nor intimation of death...>>

My response to this is simple. First I have not based any of my views on my own
thoughts. I just indicated how I learned about the crusades from the Rav. I
learned about the meaning of the Kaddish from female mourners and Rabbis in
Baltimore where I live and where women come to minyan and say kaddish. This is
how THEY PERCEIVE IT (In passing: Rabbi Teitz has the right to prohibit women
mourners from saying Kaddish in Elizabeth (I never discussed this with him on my
visits there) but there are other communities where women say Kaddish.

Suffice it to say that the issue here is >>to what extent MUST prayer be
explicit and to what extent MAY we interpret it based on nuance>> Rabbi Teitz's
other disagreements with me fall along the same line. I can do no better than to
recommend Dr Avivah Zornbergs recent book "Murmurings of the Unconscious." As a
professor of Indian philosophy explained at the groundbreaking of the book, the
book focuses on nine types of silences in the Bible. Aviva's point (well backed
by midrashim) is that certain Midrashic inferences (which are still the simple
meaning of the text), come from omissions and silences in the text. Part of
reading the Bible is hearing these silences AS IF THEY WERE SPOKEN.

Of course, in contract law we hold >>Thoughts in the heart (EVEN if they are
clear and obvious) are not legally binding>> I don't however believe that that
principle applies to Prayer. I believe that a requirement of explicitness in
reading the bible or prayer is not reasonable.

Bottom line: I would recommend everyone read this book. I believe that BOTH
Ramban and Rambam hold prayer is Biblical for a mourner. I believe the Kaddish
praise are heard (though silences) as requests for removal of one's distress
through the establishment of the Kingdom of God and the elimination of death.
And finally my ideas are based on Baltimore Rabbis, discussion with Baltimore
women and the lectures of Rabbi Soloveitchick.

Russell Jay Hendel; ph.d. asa http://www.Rashiyomi.com


End of Volume 58 Issue 96